Durham & Tyneside Dialect Group / Uz....                   

some o' wor membors at a recent biuk launch at th' Newcassle Lit n Phil, Decembor 2004 (Bill was Co-ordinator, Tom is Secretary)

The Durham & Tyneside Dialect Group was formed in 1998 AD to promote the awareness of dialect English as spoken now and formerly in the North East. It grew out of research into local speech and literature carried out in the mid 90s, involving Bill Griffiths, Gordon Patrickson and Trevor Charlton of Seaham, leading to two initial publications, North East Dialect: survey and word list and North East Dialect: the texts (Centre for Northern Studies, University of Northumbria, 1999).

A selection of the few hundred most current terms was made and issued as a dialect questionnaire, circulated with grant-aid from 'Tomorrow's History'. Over 500 responses were received from all over the region, many including extra words and information. Results were processed by Bill Griffiths, Trevor Charlton and Shim Hegedus and issued as a report in Jan 2002. It showed a wide knowledge and use of dialect vocabulary among older residents, interesting sets of local word preferences, a marked decline is use among younger respondents, but also evidence for the survival of a reduced core dialect vocabulary in general use. Though the picture is one of overall loss, a surprise to us in East Durham was the large number of extra words and phrases submitted with questionnaire responses - indicating a lot more research needed to be done, as well as showing the enthusiasm for dialect in the region. Encouraging also were various strategies in up-dating and continuing word-use e.g. doubling-up (guissie-pig rather than plain guissie) and reapplication (e.g. dut for woolly ski cap - formerly used only of a bowler hat), while new non-standard terms are emerging in many areas and may in time take their place in recognised dialect.

While particular enthusiasm for the questionnaire came from Tyneside, participants who elected to keep in touch came from a wide range of locations throughout the North-East and a notable contribution was made by former residents, now living outside the area. In view of this spread, a newsletter seemed the best way to keep in touch and build on this initial interest. It is available to anyone interested in return for a contribution of postage stamps (or by e-mail).

With this (inter)national membership, meetings are less easy to arrange. We time them to coincide with major displays: the DTDG participate in the Durham Miners Gala (held on the second Saturday in July) and hold a special dialect day at the historic Morden Tower in Newcastle as part of the Heritage Open Days (early September). We exhibit at other local history events round the region as opportunities arise - notices on this website and via newsletters.

An application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a major regional study of dialect was unsuccessful in 2004, but a modified and reduced application in 2005 has been approved. 'Wor Language' aims to encourage people to participate in exploring and explaining dialect relating to the kitchen, to mining and to the coast. The project is now under way at www.worlanguage.co.uk and we hope you will like to join in. Meanwhile, a revised and enlarged edition of ourDictionary of North-East Dialect (Northumbria University Press) was published early in 2006.

Lots gannin' on! All the same, comments and suggestions for new activities welcome!

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